Illinois COVID cases: IL reports 10,264 new cases, 63 deaths; tests sold out at many stores

CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois public health officials reported 10,264 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 63 related deaths, a day after marking the largest one-day increase in 2021.

There have been 1,985,779total COVID cases, including 27,291 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 7.6%, a jump up from 7.1% on Monday.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 179,269 new specimens for a total of 42,786,764 since the pandemic began.

Saturday, IDPH reported the largest one-day increase in tests on record with 256,765 completed tests.

COVID testing lines throughout the Chicago area have been extremely long as many are seeking tests before the holidays. Stores in Chicago including CVS are reporting that they are completely sold out of take-home COVID tests, and do not know when they’ll have them back in stock.

“Hospital bed availability has reached a critically low level. Demand on resources is high,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director, Illinois Department of Public Health. “This is setting up to be a very deadly COVID Christmas and New Year’s.”

As of Monday night, 4,008 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 845 patients were in the ICU and 432 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 18,697,629 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Monday, and 60.02% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 65,165.

Shrinking ICU Beds

COVID-related hospitalizations continue to rise at a fast pace across Illinois. In some places at a quicker rate than others.

“It’s not a good situation. We’re not at capacity for COVID patients, but at the same time it’s going in an alarming trend. It’s definitely doing one of these,” said Dr. Meeta Shah with Rush University Medical Center.

With the number of ICU beds dwindling at Silver Cross Hospital in South West Suburban New Lenox they are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

“We are nearing our capacity but we do have contingency plans in place to add ICU beds if needed,” Dr. Atul Gupta, medical director with infection prevention at Silver Cross Hospital. “We’re hoping not to get to that point.”

In Chicago, ICU bed capacity is currently at 9%, while suburban Cook County is at 11%. But the most worrisome are Will and Kankakee Counties, where as of Monday, only 5% of ICU beds are available.

RELATED: Omicron variant sweeps across nation, now 73% of US COVID-19 cases

For reference 20% is considered an ideal level.

At the moment, only Kane and DuPage are anywhere near that.

“I think the most important thing I can emphasize is getting vaccinated, getting boosters, because that’s what is going to keep people out of the hospital,” said Matthew Bedore with the Will County Public Health Department.

“The reason to get vaccinated is so you don’t end up in the hospital or admitted or on oxygen,” Dr. Shah added. “So you can just go home, take some Tylenol and get some rest in your own bed.”

A surge on top of a surge is what doctors are calling the current upward trend, which started around Thanksgiving and is now being exacerbated by an Omicron variant as case numbers duplicate every two to three days.

With Christmas this week, and New Year’s Eve the next, the concern for health care workers is their ability to handle the expected surge, with ER’s coming under particular strain.

“I’m really worried about what the numbers are going to do over the next month really,’ Dr. Shah said. “So, in many ER’s hospitals across the country, we’re dealing with what we call ‘boarding,’ which just means there’s no room upstairs, so they stay downstairs.”

That added strain is detracting from doctors’ ability to not just to deal with seriously ill COVID patients, but others with acute medical needs as well. The message coming out from most hospitals now is, if you don’t really need to be here, don’t come.

“We have started to look at our elective surgeries and starting to decide on a daily basis if some of those cases can be deferred for the time being. That’s the first level of our contingency plans,” Dr. Gupta said.

“Obviously, if you have an emergency call 911, but if you have a non-acute, non-critical issue, please reach out to your primary care provider before you make that decision to go to the hospital,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi,senior medical officer with Cook County Department of Public Health.

Long Lines For Testing Ahead of Holiday

Kevin Barron and his friend were on a mission Monday, looking for a COVID testing site that doesn’t require an appointment and one, hopefully, without a long line.

“I tried three different places,” Barron said. “The one that is close was temporarily closed, [so] we walked to this [and] they turned us away at the door.”

From sites in the city to the suburbs, the need to be tested has exploded during the past week.

With about an hour wait, one line at a Lincoln Park location wrapped down the sidewalk into the alley.

“I was not surprised,” said one person waiting to get tested. “I actually looked at other locations, but they were busy.”

“I think everybody is doing their best to stay safe and protected,” said another. “I thinks that why we are all in line right now before we see our families for the holidays.”

Traveling home to Iowa for the holidays is why Barron wants a test as soon as possible.

“There have been a lot of scares at work with the best variant,” he said. “Trying to make sure everybody is ok and healthy, and not damaging anyone.”

Traveling, family gatherings and the threat of Omicron is producing long testing lines.

Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care locations have also been extremely busy, especially with symptomatic patients.

“We’ve seen our positivity rate increase at Northwestern Medicine, kind of in conjunction with what we are seeing in the state of Illinois,” said Heather Keirnan, vice president of operations at Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care. “We are seeing lots of people come in who don’t feel well.”

Innovative Express Care is seeing similar patients. The facility is so busy, COVID test appointments are booked for the next few days.

According to Innovative, its positivity rate has tripled during the past few days. Among symptomatic patients, the rate is up to 25%.

Home testing kits have been flying off the shelves. Both CVS and Walgreens say they are doing their best to keep a variety of brands in stock through this very busy time.

Cook County recommends businesses require proof of vaccination

Cook County Public Health officials confirmed a few more cases of the omicron variant Friday, which they say is an indicator that omicron is spreading in much higher numbers in the county. As a result, they’ve issued new recommendations ahead of the holidays.

For the first time, Cook County is urging establishments, including bars and restaurants, to require patrons to show proof of vaccination or a negative test within 24 hours.

For now, it’s just a recommendation to those businesses and is not a mandate. But last week, Mayor Lightfoot in Chicago confirmed her office is in talks with the restaurant industry about additional mitigations, but offered no details.

This, as the Cook County Medical examiner announces a total of 186 COVID related death in one week, marking the counties largest number of COVID deaths in one week since February 2021.

SEE ALSO: Mayor Lori Lightfoot considering new mitigations as Chicago COVID cases rise

The city and Cook County often work in lockstep, and for now the county says the recommendations are just that.

“We don’t have any plans to issue a mandate at this time, but as you know, we always follow the data,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, co-lead, Cook County Dept. of Public Health. “People who are unvaccinated are 50 times as likely to end up in the hospital as compared to people who are vaccinated and boosted.”

Officials also issuing recommendations for holiday gatherings, saying people who are unvaccinated should avoid indoor gatherings with other households.

And those who are fully vaccinated should get a booster, as well as wear masks indoors at gatherings and consider getting a test two to three days before the gathering, as well as the morning of the event.

Officials say those rapid tests that are available at drug stores can be effective if used as a series before a holiday get-together.

Dr. Fauci speaks one-on-one with ABC7’s Sarah Schulte

The nation’s top infectious disease expert issued a stern warning as we head into the holidays.

In an exclusive interview with ABC7’s Sarah Schulte, Dr. Anthony Fauci talked about the new omicron variant and what he says worries him the most.

As people head into the holidays hoping for a sense of normalcy, Fauci warns Americans the next few weeks could be anything but with the very contagious Omicron variant beginning to take hold in the United States.

SEE ALSO | 1 year since 1st COVID vaccine given in Chicago, hospitalizations surge again amid new variants

“I have concern there are so many people still who are unvaccinated,” Fauci said. “I thought the country would have embraced vaccines better than they did, rather than a year later still have having 50-60 million people unvaccinated. That is the big disappointment.”

There are over 50 million unvaccinated people in the United States. In Illinois, over 5 million not fully vaccinated, with 650,000 in Chicago.

“Some of those people are going to get seriously ill, some of those people will be in the hospital and some are going to die, which is going to stress our healthcare and hospital system,” Fauci warned.

While politically unpopular, Fauci said more vaccine mandates are necessary to get more people vaccinated. He is also appealing to the vaccinated to get booster shots, as less than 30% of those eligible have been boosted.

“You may not prevent infection, because there will be breakthrough infections, but you will have a good deal of protection against the disease,” Fauci said.

SEE ALSO | COVID’s surge, omicron’s threat, boosters’ protection: What to know about next chapter in pandemic

Fauci also said it’s time for drug companies to develop a universal vaccine.

“There is an urgent need to get a universal coronavirus vaccine, namely a vaccine that would be against all variants and all kinds of coronaviruses,” Fauci said.

The omicron variant has caused New York City’s positivity rate to double in three days, resulting in several Broadway cancellations. Fauci said this is just the beginning.

“What is happening in New York is happening everywhere in the country,” Fauci said. “They are just the leader in the pack, unfortunately.”

Despite the warnings about the surge, Fauci does not anticipate any new guidance from the CDC. His advice for gathering and traveling during the holidays is to assess your own risk depending on where you will be.

Free community COVID testing

The group “Shield Illinois” is offering free COVID testing at 20 sites statewide so people can get tested before they visit friends and family for the holidays. Residents will get results within 48 hours.

Local sites in include Joliet Junior College, DePaul University’s DePaul Center in the Loop, Northeastern Illinois University , and Lockport Township High School East Campus…

Also Elgin Community College, Jane Addams Elementary School in Palatine, and Woodland Elementary in Gages Lake.

– 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Joliet Junior College (1215 Houbalt Rd in Joliet)

— 2 p.m.-7 p m. at Depaul University Depaul Center (1 E Jackson St in Chicago,entrance is at 333 S State St.

— 2 p.m.-8 p.m. at Northeastern Illinois University (5500 N St. Louis Ave. in Chicago

— 2 p.m.-7 p.m. at Lockport Township HS East campus (1333 E 7th St in Lockport)

— 2 p.m.-7 p.m. at Elgin Community College (1700 Spartan Dr in Elgin)

— 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m. at Jane Addams Elementary (1020 E. Sayles Dr in Palatine)

— 3;30 p.m.-8 p.m. at Woodland Elementary (17261 W. Gages Lake Rd in Gages Lake)

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December 21, 2021 at 01:37PM

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